The Identity Recession

A downturn can represent an opportune time to rebrand. In a time of turmoil, companies find themselves rethinking their customer base, their lines of business, their very identity. Some retreat to focus on their core competencies; others look to expand by snapping up troubled competitors. You’d think more would publicize their shifts with new logos and identities, particularly when newspapers and TV stations are practically giving away ad pages and commercial slots. And indeed, some companies did launch rebrandings in 2009. Several are worth studying for their strategic interest, excellent execution, and perhaps for their courage. But for my friends in the identity business—and also, I would argue, for a fluid and dynamic economy—the less-good news is that these brave companies are the exceptions. Nobody is keeping score, but far fewer companies appear to have rebranded in 2009 than in any of the post-2001 recession years, which themselves were sharply down from the “brand is hot” 1990s.

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